It’s no secret that Amazon envisions a future in which autonomous drones will be able to make many package deliveries, reducing congestion on the road and reliance on third-party delivery services. We’re still quite a few years away from that becoming an everyday reality, but there are signs of the inevitability of this future everywhere. Underscoring that is a new milestone achievement for Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery platform.
As of Monday, Amazon has received FAA certification as a drone airline, enabling it to conduct commercial drone deliveries. Very few companies in the US have received this designation from the FAA, the most notable being UPS, which has already conducted many drone-based deliveries under a partnership with a healthcare company.
Amazon confirmed the news to Bloomberg today, with company VP of Prime Air David Carbon calling the certification ‘an important step forward’ for the division. He went on to say that the designation ‘indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world.’
With this certification established, Amazon can now use its Prime Air platform to make deliveries for commercial partners similar to the deliveries we’ve seen from UPS’s drone delivery subsidiary. This doesn’t mean Amazon customers can expect to get their toilet paper and dish soap by drone, however, at least not any time soon.
The FAA has spent the past couple of years working to strike a balance between innovation involving drones and the need to protect both people and aircraft from these relatively small, quiet devices. Many regulations and restrictions are in place that limits where and how drones can be operated; violating those laws can result in a massive fine and potentially jail time.